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Difficulty falling asleep, wakefulness, and insomnia are common issues among millennials, today's most stressed-out generation. Research shows that insufficient sleep is associated with many health issues. Among natural ways to improve your sleep, eating a banana before bed is quite popular and is backed by science.
This guide covers why bananas are good for sleep, how bananas make you sleepy, the health benefits of eating a banana at bedtime, foods to avoid before bed, and what are the foods that help you sleep better.
Both serotonin and melatonin are sleep-inducing agents that keep you well-rested. Bananas are rich in carbs, magnesium, potassium, and tryptophan, which are nutrients that help relax and enhance sleep by influencing serotonin and melatonin in our bodies.
Bananas contain vitamin B6, which converts tryptophan to serotonin - a chemical precursor to melatonin and regulator of moods. This hormone is produced in our body in response to darkness and is blocked by exposure to light at night to maintain a good sleep cycle. Without enough melatonin hormone in our body, it isn't easy to sleep.
By eating a banana before bed, your body gets what it needs to get a good night's sleep naturally.
Eating a banana before bed helps you relax and promote sleep. People with stress and anxiety are more likely to toss and turn throughout the night and report lower sleep efficiency and poor sleep. Studies show that magnesium deficiency is linked to stress and anxiety, and a high magnesium diet can reduce stress and anxiety. However, the existing research evidence is poor.
A banana is a good source of magnesium that contains an 8% daily recommended dose of the mineral magnesium. So eating bananas before bed along with other food rich in magnesium like chia seeds or pumpkin seeds may help you sleep quickly.
Bananas are rich in soluble fiber and resistant starch and both together moderate your blood sugar levels after meals. Eating a banana before bed increases the feeling of fullness by slowing gastric emptying. Although high in carbs, bananas don’t increase your blood sugar levels!
People with high blood sugar can benefit from eating food rich in potassium. This mineral regulates blood pressure and improves kidney and heart health. Several studies showed a link between potassium deficiency and increased blood pressure and the risk of stroke. A medium-sized banana contains about 425 mg of potassium. Thus, eating a banana before sleep can benefit people with high blood pressure and poor sleep.
Bananas contain dietary fiber, which is linked to improved digestion. Both ripe and unripe bananas contain soluble fiber - pectin, which softens stool and prevents constipation. Eating one medium-sized banana before bed provides you with 3 grams of fiber.
What's more? Unripe bananas contain resistant starch, which acts as food or prebiotic for beneficial bacteria in your gut. The gut bacteria's fermentation of the resistant starch produces butyrate and other short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). According to studies, butyrate promotes intestinal function by reducing inflammation. As per research, people with chronic intestinal inflammation experience poor sleep. They may benefit from resistant starch in bananas.
In short, eating a banana before bed improves digestion, reduces intestinal inflammation, and improves sleep quality in people with Crohn's disease.
Eating a banana before bed can help people with insomnia because this fruit is rich in magnesium. Many people with insomnia report magnesium deficiency, and nearly 50% of elderly people suffer from insomnia.
Magnesium supplements appear to reduce insomnia in older adults. This mineral helps the body maintain healthy levels of GABA (Gamma-Aminobytric acid), a neurotransmitter that induces sleep by slowing brain waves. According to several studies, increasing the intake of magnesium can improve your sleep performance.
Painful muscle cramps at night can cause wakefulness and poor sleep quality. Research links muscle cramps to potassium deficiency in the body. Bananas contain high potassium levels, which can reduce nighttime cramps by relaxing your muscles and maintaining sodium and electrolyte balance. Thus, eating bananas at night can help you enjoy undisturbed sleep.
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is an uncontrolled urge to shake or move your legs and is characterized by an itching or a tingling sensation when the body is at rest. Research shows that RLS is associated with sleep deprivation and insomnia. Before bedtime, eating a banana can help alleviate nighttime leg aches and cramps and promote restful sleep.
Both iron and magnesium act as a natural therapy for RLS, while cure or treatment is still evolving. Studies show that iron can help with RLS, and bananas contain a good amount (less than 2% recommended quantity) of iron. Magnesium in bananas not only improves sleep but also eases RLS.
Eating a banana before bed enhances your sleep, relaxes your body, and helps you develop a healthier sleep pattern. Bananas contain a few important nutrients that help regulate our body’s internal clock. Below are the sleep-promoting nutrients in bananas and how they help us sleep well.
Tryptophan is an amino that is not synthesized by our body and is essential for us to get it from foods like bananas. Foods rich in tryptophan increase sleep time, improve sleep quality and efficiency, decrease wakefulness at night, and lower the difficulty of falling asleep at night. Tryptophan improves sleep quality because it converts to serotonin inside the brain, leading to melatonin production - a vital sleep hormone.
According to studies, a daily intake of 500 mg of magnesium may reduce cortisol levels (stress hormone) and increase melatonin production that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Therefore, eating foods rich in magnesium like bananas helps you fall asleep quickly and increase your sleep time.
People with high blood pressure and low potassium levels are highly likely to experience muscle cramps and poor sleep quality. Increasing potassium levels by eating food rich in this mineral can help improve sleep. One regular-sized banana contains 10% of the daily recommended amount of potassium. Eating a banana before bed may help enhance sleep, as research indicates.
Eating high-carb food improves the chance of tryptophan in our brain to convert into serotonin and melatonin. This may, in turn, help you fall asleep quickly. One regular-sized banana contains 29 grams of carbs. Therefore, it is healthy to eat a banana before bed.
Feelings of hunger may delay the onset of sleep at night. Bananas contain pectin, which promotes the feelings of fullness by increasing the time it takes for your stomach to empty the gastric contents (also called gastric emptying). Thus, eating a banana at night is the best way to stay full and sleep better.
Eating foods low in calories, high in fiber, protein, tryptophan, and melatonin are considered healthy to eat before bed because they can induce sleep and control appetite. Some of the foods that help you sleep are listed below:
Whole grains are loaded with carbs. Eating a 100% whole grain cracker before bed can trigger serotonin, melatonin, and other sleep-promoting neurotransmitters in the brain.
Eggs are dense in nutrients, hunger-satisfying proteins, and tryptophan, making them one of the healthy-late snacks.
Pistachios contain high protein and melatonin (the essential sleep hormone). Twenty-eight grams of shelled pistachio contain 6.5 mg of melatonin, while 0.5–5 mg of melatonin is all you need to sleep well.
Avoid foods high in saturated fat and sugar but low in fiber, like cookies, cake, because they are associated with less restorative sleep and cause wakefulness at night. To enjoy a restful night, avoid acidic, fatty, and caffeinated foods before bed.
Foods like yogurt, milk, ice cream, butter, and nuts contain a high amount of fat. Fatty food takes a long time to digest, and the body’s metabolism naturally slows down at night. Although eating fatty food is helpful to prevent hunger pangs at night, sometimes it may disrupt your sleep by causing indigestion and acid reflux.
Take off anything that contains caffeine, like coffee, from your pre-bed menu. Some chocolates, soda, and energy drinks (even decaffeinated drinks) contain caffeine, disturbing the circadian rhythm that tells your body when to sleep and when to awake. Caffeine significantly disturbs sleep by blocking adenosine, a chemical that causes sleepiness at night. So, having caffeinated food before bed stimulates your brain and keeps you awake at night.
Do you often experience a burning sensation in your chest or at the back of your throat? These are the symptoms of acid reflux, which are mainly associated with eating spicy or fried foods and dishes or snacks containing tomato-based sauces. Eating these acidic foods before bed disturbs the normal stomach seal that prevents your stomach contents from moving up into the esophagus and throat. As a result, you may stay awake the whole night due to acid reflux.
Is it good to eat bananas at night? Yes. Eating a banana before bed helps you sleep well! Bananas are rich in carbs, potassium, magnesium, tryptophan, and vitamin B6 and all these nutrients work together to induce sleep through different mechanisms in our brain and body.